If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him. Luke 17:3-4
Suppose someone you work with says something unkind to you as you walk into your office at 8:00 a.m. In a few minutes, that person knocks on your door and apologizes for being rude and you forgive. Suppose that same person makes a cutting remark at 10:00 a.m. and then again over lunch at noon. Both times, the person seems truly sorry and you say, “It’s ok. Forget it.” Then at 2:00 p.m. it happens again. As you leave the office at 4:00, there is another insulting comment. Again, it seems there is genuine regret and you let it go. By the time you go to bed, there have been two hurtful texts, followed by two requests for pardon. How long do you put up with that? Seven times? In one day?
A close look at this passage reveals some conditions. First, this scenario takes place between two believers. Second, we are given permission to rebuke (to warn or correct) only if the brother is doing something sinful, not for an irritation or unintentional offense. Third, we are commanded to forgive only if he repents. But if he does repent, we must forgive — over and over and over.
Why does Jesus ask us to be generous in forgiveness? Because He has put no limit on the forgiveness we so desperately need from Him. Every single time we turn to God in true repentance, we can count on His forgiveness — even if we turn to Him every two hours, all day long.
Lord, would You please put it in my heart to be a generous forgiver? Thank You for not treating me as my sins deserve, but instead, always being compassionate and gracious and abounding in love.